So some of you know that I'll be changing my major to Computer Science this spring. I've been mulling around putting together a barebones Linux box for a while now, and it has even more appeal with the major change. I'd use it as a second computer for browsing the internet, mail, programming and compiling, and other general computing mayhem, while my Windows box would become more specialized for gaming. To this end, 3D performance doesn't have to be there. I might even go with onboard video. If not that then an entry level 3D card, like an ATI X300 or nVidia Geforce 6600 or something. I/O needs to be good, so I think I'll be going with an SATA disk, but space doesn't have to be too big. I can transfer to and from the 320 gigs in my Windows box easily (maybe I'll gigabit the two together in my dorm room). RAM doesn't have to be huge since I'll just be doing general computing, but I want to keep it fast. 512 of DDR400 sounds more than adequate. Processor is where it gets complicated. The processor will probably be the most important part of this system for a number of reasons. I'll probably be doing a lot of compiling, but maybe some multimedia (CD ripping, for example), and maybe even content serving (like a file dump for me on the campus network). The catch is that I want to keep this box as quiet as possible. Think of it almost like a multimedia PC - it should blend into my environment, so I can keep my loud P4-based gaming box off unless I'm gaming. For this reason, I was thinking of going with a Pentium M because you can get small form factor barebones with socket 479. The downside to Pentium M is the current Intel 855 chipset is really a notebook chipset, and its features are lacking - i.e. no SATA, only PATA. I never want to go back to PATA again. Ever. I heard that by now Intel should have come out with their new Pentium M desktop chipset, but all I see out there so far is the Intel 915 Go, which is for notebooks only. That leaves the Athlon 64 as an alternative. The pros of the Athlon 64 are: it's a proven architecture, both on Windows and Linux, its chipsets all have full feature sets, it's not as hot as a Pentium 4. That said, it's still a lot hotter than a Pentium M, especially under load. Oh yea, I already mentioned small form factor, but basically this is all gonna be in one of those little Shuttle cube-type computers. Opinions?